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Gender, geography and urban form : a case study of Durban.

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This research project is primarily a theoretical work which critiques androcentric knowledge in general and androcentricism in South African human geography in particular . It therefore has relevance both for local geographers and local feminists . The project as a whole has been informed by feminist politics at a theoretical , practical and personal level . The lack of gender-consciousness in the local radical geography tradition is challenged and local geographers are provided with specific pointers for moving beyond a gender-blind impasse . Furthermore , it is argued that the majority of the local gender-conscious literature has inadequately theorised patriarchal gender relations and that such a theorisation would have crucial bearing on developing strategies for social change . It is suggested that a materialist feminist theoretical framework offers the most sophisticated tool yet developed for understanding the oppression of women . Hence , a variety of contemporary materialist feminist work is reviewed, and a realist perspective is offered as a way of theorising the complex interconnections between the social relations of race, class and gender . This materialist approach has thus far had the greatest impact on feminist geographers. A selection of the latter 's work is therefore presented in order to illustrate how they have expanded our understanding of urban processes . Finally, empirical data pertaining to Durban is used to illustrate a) how gender is socially constructed: b) how gender meanings change over time and c) the way in which patriarchal gender relations have been expressed in the local context. It is ultimately asserted that geographers must take it as implicit that the categories and forces of the processes of urbanisation are dependent upon a specific construction of gender . The study of this, must in consequence become an integral part of human geographical analysis .


Thesis (M.Sc.)-University of Natal, Durban, 1987.


Feminism--Durban., Women--Durban--Social conditions., Durban--Social conditions., Theses--Geography.